MediaFile

On Twitter, dubious health claims from e-cigarette bots

Advertising is a funny medium. TV spots, radio jingles, banner ads — none of these are meant to get us to rise out of our seats and run to the store. Instead, most advertising is meant to impress something upon us: an idea, a favorable opinion, a subtle memory of a brand name. As social media has gotten more sophisticated, however, a funny thing appears to have happened online: People with products to sell aren’t even bothering to call themselves advertisers.

Instead, on Twitter, they open plain old accounts and start tweeting about the stuff they want to sell us. Social media has brought a revolution to advertising, but in the case of products subject to regulation regarding health, safety or efficacy claims, it’s also brought the potential for a return to the bad old days of snake-oil products peddled by quacks in the backs of magazines, where the best result would be to not end up becoming sick or dying thanks to the “cure.”

E-cigarettes — the smokeless, tobacco-free, nicotine vapor delivery systems — are being talked about everywhere lately. The devices, and their fans and detractors, are in newspapers, magazines, the mouths of celebrities, even the investment portfolios of Internet moguls. The New York Times spots one dangling out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s mouth. The Wall Street Journal notices Silicon Valley gadfly Sean Parker adding some nicotine vapor to his investment portfolio. And Bloomberg Businessweek spies an e-cig hospitality tent at the Bonnaroo music festival. This is the growth template — celebrity sightings, brand ambassadorship, big-name investments — of many new products these days. There’s even $1 billion in “traditional” advertising being spent this year by tobacco companies like Philip Morris, Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds (selling MarkTen, Blue and Vuse branded e-cigarettes, respectively) who have gotten into the vapor game. The only piece missing from e-cigarette campaigns would appear to be a social media strategy. Or is it?

A recently concluded study run by a research team from Health Media Collaboratory, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has in fact analyzed Twitter traffic looking to learn how e-cigarettes are marketed and promoted on social media. What the team found was a steady stream of tweets, many of which appear to be from bots, or automated Twitter accounts, that tout the health and safety benefits of e-cigarettes, primarily pushing the idea that e-cigarettes aid with the cessation of smoking the plain old paper-and-tobacco variety.

The study has the potential to open a new battle line on advertising in social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook — not just their adherence to legal regulations, but the very definition of what social advertising is. The regulation of emerging products like e-cigarettes is already a blurry field, as the fledgling industry fought to avoid being categorized as a tobacco product, a fight it lost in 2011. However, while final FDA rules on e-cigarette regulation are awaited, there is one bright line the makers of e-cigarettes are not supposed to cross. Manufacturers can, according to the study, “make unrestricted advertising appeals, provided they do not market their products as smoking cessation devices.”

Bluefin Labs names former Razorfish, Publicis exec as CEO

Bluefin Labs– a company that tracks a brand’s perception on social media sites while a commercial airs on TV– has named a new CEO.  JP Maheu has signed on with the fledgling company as CEO while its co-founder Deb Roy will take up the role of chairman.

Maheu was most recently the global CEO of Publicis Modem, the digital marketing arm of Publicis Worldwide, and has also served stints as CEO of Razorfish and chief digital officer at Ogilvy & Mather.

Bluefin provides technology that allows network programmers as well as advertisers to track what people are saying about specific products or TV shows on social media such as Twitter or Facebook.

Ad startup SessionM nabs big clients, expands

Advertisers have long sought to grab the attention of the notoriously inattentive mobile user. And Lars Albright is seeking to provide just that by “gamifying” mobile ads.

The co-founder of Quattro Wireless, which was bought by mobile device giant Apple for $275 million in 2009, left Apple last year to start SessionM, which aims to engage mobile users by tempting them to play a game, watch a video, take a poll or share information with friends – all for “M” points.

The “M” points can then be redeemed for anything from gift cards to discounts to charitable donations.

Google touts its ad metrics as Facebook confronts hurdles

Google just put out a study touting metrics as a way to sell more advertising.

But the most interesting part of the study is the timing. It comes on the heels of the Facebook advertising fiasco, when just days before its hotly anticipated IPO, General Motors said it would stop advertising on the social network, raising the question of the value of a Facebook ad.

The lure of online advertising has always been the promise of immediate and precise information (in theory at least) about how an ad worked. In industry speak, it is referred to as ROI– return on investment.

Google and Facebook are fierce rivals for online advertising and part of the reason for Facebook’s astronomical valuation (yes, even though its IPO was widely considered a flop)  is the promise of it sucking up more ad dollars down the line.

Race On: Will the media outpace U.S. GDP growth as Veronis forecast?

Athlete Alyson Felix in training for this year's Olympics. Will U.S. economy keep pace? (Photo: Reuters)

 

The world is a wonderful place if you’re in the U.S. media business, according to the mid-term update from Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

The private equity firm forecasts the U.S communications industry–which includes everything from Hollywood and cable to education publishing and Yellow Pages–will grow faster than the U.S. economy in 2012. The total communications industry is project to grow by 5.6  percent compared with 4.4 percent GDP growth for the United States.

from Paul Smalera:

The recession killed journalism – and saved it

Over the last few years, thanks to the global economic crisis – encapsulating everything from the 2008 housing crash to today’s ongoing euro zone sovereign-debt debacle – much ink has been spilled about the reshaping of the world’s economy, especially about the domestic job market.

Actually, scratch part of that last sentence, because less ink has been spilled, at least according to the results of a recent report by LinkedIn. The media business has been in overdrive, especially during this 2012 election season, but it’s now pushing pixels, not paper.

According to the data studied by LinkedIn, the professional social network, the newspaper industry experienced a 28.4 percent shrink rate between 2007 and 2011. The death of newspapers is not exactly a new phenomenon, so I’ll spare you yet another detailed recap of the print and economic climate that led to this broadsheet apocalypse.

Why can’t Facebook and Twitter say the A-word?

What’s the most uncool word in social media?

Advertising.

Just look at the pains the top social networking companies take to avoid uttering the dreaded term.

Twitter started the trend when it rolled out its advertising products in 2010, which it dubbed “promoted Tweets.” Chief Executive Dick Costolo (who was COO at the time) insisted that the marketing pitches coming to Twitter were not ads at all – they were simply standard Twitter messages that companies could pay to promote.

Now Facebook, which derived 85 percent of its revenue from advertising last year, has developed a similar aversion to the A word.

Nearly every Super Bowl commercial, in one post

We are compiling all the Super Bowl commercials here so you don’t have to. Once we’ve got most of them, we’ll ask you to vote which one you think was the best. In the meantime, post what you think about the ones we have here in the comments below.

Aliens star in an ad for the Chevrolet Volt electric car

Matthew Broderick returns to his Ferris Buehler roots in this Honda commercial

Jerry Seinfeld shows up in a number of Acura ads.

Regis Philbin appears in a commercial where a Coke salesman wins free Pepsi.

Kraft will debut a new breakfast food called “belVita”

A car shopper’s conscience unleashes his inner-Disco for Cars.com

Amy Sedaris stars in the remake of a classic Super Bowl ad for Downy

GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad this year features an on-screen QR code

Adriana Lima prepares for Valentine’s Day in the Teleflora ad

The CareerBuilder.com chimpanzees are back

Move over, Darth Vader: Dogs take center stage in Volkswagen’s ad this year

For the first-time ever, Lexus will air a Super Bowl commercial

Audi’s new Super Bowl ad features a hip vampire party

It wouldn’t be a Super Bowl without an advertisement from Coca-Cola

Viacom chief Dauman plays down Nickelodeon ratings dip, sees more ads

Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman

Viacom Chief Executive Phillipe Dauman tried to play down the Nickelodeon surprise double-digit ratings drop in September as a Nielsen glitch which is being worked on and would not impact the upcoming quarter.

Dauman, speaking at a UBS Media and Technology investment conference, expressed his frustration at the issue but said there was little that could be done about it at this stage. He said “Nielsen is the only game in town”.

He described the timing as unfortunate coming in the crucial September quarter ahead of the holiday season.

As Nike sticks by a tarnished Penn St., others flee

The last 10 days have obviously tarnished the Penn State brand, and left advertisers, sponsors, and others closely associated with the university and its football program with some tough questions. Boiled down, it amounts to this: How far should you go to distance yourself from the crisis?

Fallout has already been heavy, so much so that Penn State has hired Ketchum to help the university navigate through the mess. Yet this may be one of those cases — and there are many — when the big PR firm is brought in too late.

“Penn St. has been incredibly tarnished, it’s a huge hit to that brand,” says Paul  Pierson, a partner at branding and design firm Carbone Smolan Agency. “Some of the most damaging things to the brand have already done, like the outpouring of support from the Penn State students for Paterno after the firing,” he adds. “That made it look as though the school cared more about football than ethics.”